USF students call for dropped charges outside State Attorney’s office

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Gia Davila with SDS speaking about her arrest during a USF protest over HB 999. WMNF (2023).

In response to 4 campus arrests earlier this month at a protest against House Bill 999, about 20 demonstrators gathered today in front of the Hillsborough County Courthouse calling for justice.

[Chanting] “Justice for….Tampa 4! Justice for….Tampa 4! Justice for….Tampa 4!”

They demanded that newly appointed State Attorney Suzy Lopez drop the charges against students arrested during the March 6th peaceful protest. Gia Davila is with Students for a Democratic Society, or SDS, and was one of the four arrested for protesting House Bill 999

“…Would effectively ban multicultural clubs, groups, and studies at USF… SHAME!”

Davila was trespassed from campus, making her unable to attend work, class, or campus events. She was one of the four receiving multiple criminal charges.

“They proceeded to charge us with a felony count of battery on a law enforcement officer… lies! And two additional misdemeanors of nonviolent resistance of arrest and disruption of a school event…lies!”

She maintained their innocence and demanded that State Attorney Suzy Daniels drop their charges. The former State Attorney Andrew Warren was unconstitutionally fired by DeSantis for refusing to criminalize gender affirming care and enforcing the 15 week abortion ban and DeSantis appointed Suzy Lopez instead. Jerry Funt is with Florida Dream Defenders pointed out that while he felt Warren didn’t have a perfect track record in how he had prosecuted protesters in 2020 demonstrations in Tampa, Lopez could be significantly less receptive to the demands of protesters.

“There is a difference between a prosecutor who has to answer to the people and the voters, and there a prosecutor who has to answer to the governor who appointed her. And the same policies that you all are protesting here today are made by the same person that put her in power. And so she is not going to listen to us asking nicely. The only way that power acquiesces to the people is when people show they have more power.”

Joseph Charry is a student at USF and a member of SDS and said that officer brutalized students on March 6th, and that the political repression did not end for protesters on that day.

“It has continued since in the form of unjust charges that are contradictory to what actually happened. These charges categorize peaceful protestors as criminals and even felons. As if they had done anything other than voice out their opinions.”

SDS demanded that USF president Rhea law step down, and that Chief Chris Daniels be fired for the attack on students. For WMNF News, I’m Josh Holton

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